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Sad for Unity Bookstore

  • June 30th, 2011

Hearing the Auckland Unity Books spokesperson's discussion of Wishart's Macsyna book with Kathryn Ryan this morning made me sorry for the Unity folk here in Wellington. It appears that Wellington and Auckland are not under the same ownership,  Wellington may nevertheless pay a price for the feeble intellect and triviality of their Auckland associate, if, like me, people  who would never want to read the book nevertheless steer our book buying away to shops that do not presume to impose their mundane hypocrisy on us.

The Auckland spokesperson, who had not read the book,  was indifferent to the censorship and bookburning implications of refusing to sell it (saying she would destroy the already ordered copies instead of delivering them to her customers). Her repeated reason was that it was not right for someone to make money from a book about such misery. On that test she'll soon have pleny of space on her shelves.

Of course she should be free to decide what she stocks and does not stock. But I look forward to the Unity/PaperPlus/Warehouse Index Librorum Prohibitorum. No doubt they will first list moral horrors in order of deplorability, so we can all know  where they place their cut-off threshhold. They could start with a handy precedent – sins have previously been categorised from venial to mortal.

More groping by our intelligentsia toward filling the gap for a secular priesthood.

Monday – Sorry to see that Wellington Unity has expressly adopted the Auckland policy.


  • Deborah Coddington
  • June 30th, 2011
  • 3:43 pm

Stephen, commentators are going on about this being a "precedent". It isn't. In 1996 when I did the first Paedophile & Sex Offender Index, there weren't so many book chains then, but many individual bookstores throughout the country refused to stock it. Some on the grounds it was 'double jeopardy' (it wasn't). Others because one bookshop (I think in Te Awamutu, or somewhere like that) had a brick thrown through their window. There was a similar outcry, but of course, no Facebook or Internet in those days.


You had the courage Deborah. I wonder how we’ll fare if and when there are few independent stores left. I guess at the moment anyway, the uncensored web is some protection against group-think.

  • Jim Maclean
  • July 6th, 2011
  • 1:00 pm

I remain somewhat troubled by the fact that I simply cannot side with Stephen on this one. I admire his agile and educated legal reasoning on so many levels that it doesn't happen often, but on this occasion I find myself cheering inwardly that shops are refusing to stock Wishart's book. I can accept that it may well be true that although Macsyna King really was the worst kind of mother, she may not actually have murdered her children but also actively co-operated in an attempt to convict the baby faced killer who did. Even if true, none of this allows me to feel any desire to hear her explain, much less try to justify her apalling conduct. It does not help that I have an abiding distrust of Ian Wishart's ability to act as an honest broker in bringing to the public an unpalatable but unbiased chance to better understand a tragedy. I see only the likelihood of excuses and self justification for what was inexcusable. I accept that this may mark me as unsophisticated, but hopefully it shows some measure of the raw tribal disgust I have for this woman and her "family". Perhaps one day I will come to understand better why this is wrong headed, but for now I stand with those who would deny Macsyna King her chance to speak and cheer those others who would do likewise

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